Mallory Velte: How I Chose Where to Wrestle in College

 photo by  tony rotundo

photo by tony rotundo

Mallory Velte started her wrestling journey in California. Despite first being told she could not join the team, she has pushed past obstacles to become a 3x college national champion, a junior and senior world team member, and one of the top wrestlers in the country. Read about her decision making for wrestling in college, and how the lessons she learned can help make your search more simple.

How she started wrestling

I am originally from Sacramento, California, which is where I first started wrestling. I am currently finishing my degree (last 2 classes!) at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada. I was drawn to contact sports and wrestling my whole life, but didn’t have the opportunity to go to a school with a wrestling team until 8th grade. I asked to join the team, and was denied by the coach, so I thought wrestling wasn’t for girls. When I was in high school, I was approached by the wrestling coach and encouraged to participate - there was 1 other girl on the team so I was excited.  

I love the constant physical and mental challenges of wrestling- the tough gritty aspect of our sport is why I have kept with it.  I choose to attend Simon Fraser University in BC, Canada due to the great wrestling team, and the academic opportunities. I’m a psychology major, and finishing my minors in Early Learning and Kinesiology.

Choosing a college

I was no superstar coming out of high school. I had won the state tournament twice, but aside from that I didn’t have inherent talent in the sport. I knew I needed to choose a university where my wrestling would continue to develop and get me to the top of the national podium.

I never thought twice about not wrestling in college, so I only applied to schools with women's wrestling teams in the WCWA. However, I knew I wanted to compete with a team that could help me become the best wrestler possible. I also wanted to go to a school with quality academics so I would leave with a diploma with a good reputation. Additionally, I knew I wanted to go to a big school in an urban area - basically I didn’t want to be in the middle of nowhere.  I visited the top schools at the time: King, Lindenwood, OCU, Menlo, and then Simon Fraser. Visiting the schools was important for me, because I didn’t want to make a blind choice about where I was going to live for the next 4-5 years. Each school visit gave me the opportunity to get to know the coaches and the team to see if I would fit in. Many high school girls I speak to talk about needing to get a “full ride.” For me, I didn’t want to sacrifice quality of academics, training, or quality of life because of money. Luckily with blind faith, a little help from my family, working a part time job, a partial wrestling scholarship, and applying for external grants and bursaries I was able to afford my college of choice: Simon Fraser University.

For high school wrestlers starting their college search

Here are my six recommendations for female wrestlers looking at colleges:

1. Take your SAT and ACT early! It can add to your scholarships and entrance awards.

2. Narrow down your choices! Location, academic programs, school size, and team success.  

3. VISIT THE SCHOOL! Find a way (even if that means your parents won't be able to come). It’s so important to envision yourself at the university to know if it's the right choice.

4. Ask as many questions as you can with the coaches and academic advisors.

5. Don’t commit too early! Coaches will pressure you to sign your letter of intent - but a good coach will let you take your time and decide.

6. Follow your gut instinct - if a coach or a team rubs you the wrong way, it’s not the right team for you.

What she knows now

I wish I knew that money would work itself out. I was very stressed about what I could afford, and I think that clouded my judgement at times. Visiting the schools I was interested in was expensive and tricky during my 12th grade year of high school. But I made it work because it was a priority to me. 

Mallory Velte is a student athlete at Simon-Fraiser University in Vancouver, Canada finishing her degree in psychology. She was 5th at the 2015 Junior World Championships, a 3x WCWA National Champion (2016-2018), a 2x National Team Member, and a 2017 Senior World team member.